The Czech government has refused aid to the mining firm NWR which plans to
cut some 3,000 jobs at its unprofitable Paskov mine in north Moravia. The
interim cabinet will not pay any debts of firm’s owners, will not buy
firm’s subsidiary or the Paskov mine itself, Prime Minister Jiří
said on Wednesday. Instead, the government will focus on assisting those
who will lose their jobs, Mr Rusnok added, arguing it made no sense to
a mine running which loses 1.5 billion crowns each year.
New World Resources said they would close the Paskov mine by the end of next year, a move that would cut around 3,000 jobs. The firm said that if they received between four and six billion crowns in assistance from the Czech government, they would close the plant in 2018.
In related news, the Social Democrats have dismissed a request by the owners of the unprofitable Paskov mine in north Moravia for government assistance to postpone its closure. Deputy chair of the Social Democrat party, Lubomír Zaorálek, told reporters on Wednesday the demand was outrageous. The Social Democrats are expected to win the upcoming general election and form the country’s next government.
Czech Finance Minister Jan Fischer has proposed a draft state budget for 2014 with the deficit of 112 billion crowns. Mr Fischer told a news conference on Wednesday he had originally planned a deficit of 110 billion crowns but that he now expected an extra 4 or 5 billion in tax revenues. The minister said the target of 3 percent of GDP would not be exceeded. The government will discuss details of the draft budget with employers and trade unions on Friday, and is set to vote on the proposal next week.
The Czech government on Wednesday approved a plan to increase funds for state-covered health insurance, PM Jiří Rusnok said. The cabinet plants to increase payments for children, retired people and other groups whose health care insurance is covered by the state from the current 723 crowns a month to 773 crowns. That would mean an extra 4.7 billion crowns for the system. Health Minister Martin Holcát had earlier proposed an increase by 7.2 billion. At a time when the lower house of Parliament is dissolved, the caretaker cabinet is planning to ask the Senate to approve the respective legislation.
The EU’s new tobacco laws could put hundreds of Czech jobs at risk, President Miloš Zeman told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday, the first day of his visit to EU headquarters. After a meeting with the speaker of the European Parliament, the Czech president expressed hope that during debates on the new rules, MEPs would take into consideration the interest of 1,500 employees of cigarette producer Philip Morris’s Czech plant. The planned EU directive on tobacco products includes a ban on some types of cigarettes such as slims and menthols, and would force producers to place bigger pictorial health warnings on packets.
The European Commission has approved a major dust control project for two steelworks in northern Moravia, a spokeswoman for the commission said. Two projects worth some 1.2 billion crowns should lower the volume of dust emitted by Třinecké železárny and the Ostrava plant of ArcelorMittal by around 230 tonnes each year, significantly reducing air pollution in the area. Třinecké železárny is planning to start work on dust reduction immediately. A spokeswoman for ArcelorMittal said dust filters should be installed in 2016.
The Czech Republic’s state agencies CzechTrade and CzechInvest are opening new trade missions in Buenos Aires, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Casablanca and Beijing in the coming days, a spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Trade said. Before the end of the year, new missions will also open in Turkey, India and Indonesia. In 2014, some five or six trade missions will be established in Africa and Asia. The ministry plans to spend around 200 million crowns on Czech trade missions abroad whose number should increase to between 60 and 70, the spokesman said. The ministry eventually plans to merge the two agencies into one body to support Czech foreign trade and attract investors to the Czech Republic.
Influential businessman Ivo Rittig is being questioned by the police on suspicion of involvement in large-scale corruption, manipulation of public tenders and money-laundering. Rittig, who resides in Monaco, is believed to be one of the Prague “godfathers” who controlled the Prague branch of the Civic Democrats when the party ruled Prague City Hall. No charges have as yet been brought against him. Two other powerful lobbyists implicated in the case are Roman Janoušek and Tomáš Hrdlička.
A Czech NGO is planning to launch a campaign entitled Live Longer at Home to inform retired people and their relatives of services available to seniors living at home. Organizers said a vast majority of retired people wanted to continue living in their homes rather than move to seniors’ homes; however, they are little aware of the care options available. Information on these services will be advertised at the campaign’s website while leaflets and brochures will be distributed at labour offices and town halls. The head of the Czech Labour Office said thousands of unemployed people could find work in assisting seniors. The campaign will be officially launched on October 1.
A cyclist covered a ten-kilometre-long distance in Prague faster than a car and a tram in a test race designed to find the quickest way of moving around the capital, the news website idnes.cz reported. The race, organized by the NGO Auto*Mat, took place between Prague’s Modřany district and the National Theatre in the centre of the city on Wednesday morning. The cyclist arrived first in just over 20 minutes, followed by the car which arrived five minutes later. The tram traveller came in last, some 13 minutes behind the winner.